Israeli scientists find way to treat pancreatic cancer in 14 days

The tumor in one mouse that was injected with human cancer cells completely disappeared.

Cancerous cells forming a lump in the pancreatic tissue
Cancerous cells forming a lump in the pancreatic tissue (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/SCIENTIFIC ANIMATIONS INC.)

A new treatment developed by Tel Aviv University could induce the destruction of pancreatic cancer cells, eradicating the number of cancerous cells by up to 90% after two weeks of daily injections of a small molecule known as PJ34.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the hardest cancers to treat. Most people who are diagnosed with the disease do not even live five years after being diagnosed.

The study, led by Prof. Malka Cohen-Armon and her team at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, in collaboration with Dr. Talia Golan’s team at the Cancer Research Center at Sheba Medical Center, was recently published in the journal Oncotarget.

Specifically, the study found that PJ34, when injected intravenously, causes the self-destruction of human cancer cells during mitosis, the scientific term for cell division.

The research was conducted with xenografts, transplantation of human pancreatic cancer into immunocompromised mice. A month after being injected with the molecule daily for 14 days, “there was a reduction of 90% of pancreatic cells in the tumor,” Cohen-Armon told The Jerusalem Post. “In one mouse, the tumor completely disappeared.”

“This molecule causes an anomaly during mitosis of human cancer cells, provoking rapid cell death,” she said. “Thus, cell multiplication itself resulted in cell death in the treated cancer cells.”

Moreover, she said, PJ34 appears to have no impact on healthy cells, thus “no adverse effects were observed.” The mice, she said, continued to grow and gain weight as usual.

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Israeli scientists find way to treat pancreatic cancer in 14 days

Article by Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, news editor and head of online content and strategy for The Jerusalem Post.